In a new study, researchers found that intensively controlling blood pressure was more effective at slowing brain lesions than the standard treatment of high blood pressure.
The finding showed that intensive treatment strongly lowered the chances that people developed mild cognitive impairment.
The research was conducted by a team from the National Institutes of Health.
Brain white matter is made up of billions of thin nerve fibers, called axons, that connect the neurons with each other.
The fibers are covered by myelin, a white fatty coating that protects axons from injury and speeds the flow of electrical signals.
White matter lesions, which appear bright white on MRI scans, represent an increase in water content and reflect a variety of changes deep inside the brain, including the thinning of myelin, increased glial cell reactions to injury, leaky brain blood vessels, or multiple strokes.
These changes are linked to high blood pressure.
Previous research has shown that people who have high blood pressure have a greater chance of white matter lesions and also of experiencing cognitive disorders and dementia later in life.
In the study, the team used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of hundreds of participants in the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT).
They found intensively controlling blood pressure was more effective at slowing the accumulation of white matter lesions than the standard treatment of high blood pressure.
The result complements previous research and supports a growing body of evidence suggesting that controlling blood pressure may not only reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease but also of age-related cognitive loss.
The team suggests people know their blood pressure and discuss with their doctors how to optimize control. It may be key to future brain health.
The lead author of the study is Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., director of the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The study is published in JAMA.
Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.